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Friday, June 13, 2008

BATTLE OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE

There's a three-page account of this battle in the Seminole War in GSCM Reporter 27:3 (May/June 2008). The force of 9,000 US volunteers under Col. Zachary Taylor included 600 mounted Missouri men under Col. Richard Gentry. Yellow fever and a hurricane reduced the Missouri numbers to 227 men and 150 horses by the time the force reassembled in Florida.

When the force finally found the Seminoles (25 December 1837), the Indians had done a tremendous job of preparing a open field of fire that would make a frontal assault a suicidal undertaking. Col. Gentry and several other officers advised a flanking approach, but future President Taylor would have none of it. The frontal assault proceeded, and the US volunteers in fact defeated the Seminoles and caused the retreat of the survivors into the swamps. But the assault was quite costly; 40 of the 132 Missouri volunteers directly involved were killed or wounded, including Col. Gentry, who was gutshot and later died from the agonizing wound.

Note: MoSGA's own Membership Chair, Rob Taylor, edits the GSCM Reporter. There's an online list of articles printed in previous issues of the Reporter here, with instructions on how to order back issues of this outstanding publication.

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